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It can all be a little overwhelming, the city may not be huge but the culture, activities, events, eateries etc. is vast. So we have taken it upon ourselves to amalgamate our local 12 years experience in the city via our blog. Whether you are planning on coming over for the festivals, want to find out vegan eats or general insider information, we will keep you in the loop.

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29/11/2016

Spending the festive season in Barcelona?

 

Whether you’re popping over for some pre-Christmas shopping or enjoying the whole holiday here, there’s plenty to keep you occupied in Barcelona throughout the festive season.

See: Whilst each district of the city has its very own set of spectacles, the lion’s share of the action takes place in and around the city’s atmospheric gothic centre. And since 6 January (or Epiphany as you’ll probably know it) is a national holiday here, you’ll find that Barcelona remains decked out in decorations until at least January 7.

Throughout the entire period you can catch concerts—including a pretty spectacular annual performance of Händel’s Messiah at the Basílica Santa Maria del Mar—and be able to gaze at displays such as a huge snowball and light show in Plaça de Catalunya, or a nativity scene encased within giant snow globes in Plaça Sant Jaume. For the active among you, head down to Port Vell Harbour on Christmas Day to witness the annual Copa Nadal swimming competition, or cheer on the folks ambitiously running the Cursa dels Nassos marathon on December 31.

Traditions: Strolling around the city you’ll see the usual glittering streetlights, tinsel-speckled trees and traditional nativity scenes. But local customs up the ante a little and introduce a far more organic element to proceedings. Meet caganer and caga tió: earthy symbols of a traditional Catalan Christmas, which literally translate as ‘the crapper’ and ‘crapping log’. When nature calls, the cheeky, bare-bummed caganer duly answers by squatting down and fertilizing the land, thus guaranteeing good luck for the year to come. The log, caga tió, resides under the Christmas tree and—assuming he’s been sufficiently ‘fed’ throughout the festive period—defecates sweet treats for the children upon being beaten with sticks and demanded to poo via song. Lovely. For those wishing to feast their eyes upon a giant caga tió, he has pride of place just outside the Catedral de Barcelona this year.

If you happen to be spending New Year’s Eve here, don’t forget to grab your lucky grapes for midnight; you’ll need 12 of them to stuff in your mouth to accompany each chime of the bell. Oh, and presents are usually exchanged on 5 January (Twelfth Night), rather than Christmas Day, giving cause for another massive dinner and traditional roscón cake. Finding the festive figurines inside denotes luck for the year to come, whilst the person who picks up the bean will find themselves picking up the tab too.

Spend: Aside from the serious high-end and high street shopping that surrounds Plaça de Catalunya, Barcelona also embraces the traditional Christmas market, which is suitably stocked with decorations, handmade crafts and the ubiquitous caganer figurines for the folks back home. The best of the bunch are the Fira de Nadal de la Sagrada Família and the perennially popular Fira de Santa Llúcia, set in the pretty spectacular shadow of the Catedral de Barcelona. However, if you’re more modern in your tastes, you can check out the festive editions of Poble Nou’s Palo Alto Market on the 3-4 and 17-18 December, where you’re guaranteed to pick up some one-of-a-kind gifts from local creatives.

Eat: Ever tried Escudella and Carn d’Olla? Now’s your chance. These Catalan classics pop up everywhere during the festive period and are as popular on 25 December as turkey and trimmings might be in the UK or US. The one-pot-two-course affair involves stewing a variety of meats, chickpeas and veg low-and-slow for hours on end, resulting in a soup course of pasta-speckled stock (escudella), followed by a hearty plate of all the tender braised meats and pulses (carn d’Olla). Aside from this, you’ll find seafood and cannelloni all to be popular throughout the season and for those with a sweet tooth, the countless varieties of turrón (nougat) on offer should be enough to sate candy cravings.

But there are also plenty of food markets taking place in the run up to the big day, so you can either stock up or stuff yourself silly, all in the name of Christmas research. Crazily central and first of the bunch, Van Van Market ambitiously takes control of Passeig de Gracia on 1 December, whilst OSO Winterfest is offering a line-up of classic Christmas movies and musical guests to accompany their collection of food trucks in Poble Espanyol on 3-4 December. For romantic festive atmosphere, you won’t beat All Those market, taking place in the university cloisters of the Seminario Conciliar de Barcelona on 11-12 December, whilst Eat Street in Nau Bostik on 17 December is set to be suitably seasonal. Finally, you’ll find a lot of restaurants to be open on Christmas Day, but they’ll definitely be packed—book a table way in advance if you plan on dining out.

Fancy a festive foray this year? Check out DestinationBCN‘s selection of luxury apartments in Barcelona…

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